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Posted by Comments:
Rick in Canada, eh?
March 21, 2017
Hi all.

Guess I'm at the head of the line this time....

Initial thought. I am struck by the way John
tells this story, and I'm thinking that the
"punchline" is not vs. 38, "And he
worshipped him," but is rather vs. 41,
"Now that you say, 'We see,' your sin

John wrote his story for the church (or, rather,
for his church). He did not, as C. S. Lewis
points out, write to make new Christians, he wrote
to build up Christians who were already made. So
the target audience is not unbelievers, nor the
Jewish Pharisees. His target is the church,
Christians, and (dare I say it) CHRISTIAN

John seems to be addressing himself to believers
who have grown proud of their belief, proud of
their standing before God, confident in their
rightness, and (especially) confident of the
wrongness of others.

I have heard far to many sermons, and read far too
many devotional booklets which spend far too much
time celebrating our (correct!) standing before
God with mere lip-service (if that) given to any
sense of humility. And most of the time these
tirades are aimed at those whom the speaker/writer
considers to be in the wrong, as if saying to
someone, "Hey! You're wrong and I'm right.
Don't you want to become right like me?" is
going to do anything for the target of such

John's closing line of this story is a direct
address to those of us who claim too much for
ourselves, and assume too little about God's
ability to be with those "others."

Jesus is a challenge, especially for the church!
Especially for believers! Especially for us!

Posted by Comments:
March 22, 2017
This is such a long reading, I was thinking of
breaking it up among several readers, and doing it
sort of as a drama. Has anyone ever done this?

Posted by Comments:
March 22, 2017
Could moral, spiritual, economic, political
blindness be a major affliction today? Even for
those who claim the name of Christ?

Posted by Comments:
steve souther
March 23, 2017
Rick in Canada: Thank you for being at the 'head
of the line.'

After a great deal of thinking on what you said
about the 'punch line' being the last bit about
The image of light and darkness bears this out.

The interrogation conducted by the Pharisees came
about because of the community that couldn't see
how it was possible that a man-born-blind could be
made to see. And so they brought him before the
Jews (those with authority). This has all the
marks of a congressional hearing!

This fact in itself illustrates sight when it
comes to reading this familiar text: I've never
seen the critical role this community played in
the narration before today. This role is a
reversal of the community in Sychar where the
Samaritan woman testified. They believed. It's
ironic that here in the heart of the place were
salvation comes from there is disbelief!

The mud that Jesus used in the healing process,
pointed not only to creation ("this 100
pounds of clay"), but to the role this man
was to play in the works of God--he turns out to
be a disciple, according to John. Where others are
afraid of being thrown out of the Synagogue, which
is a death blow, this man stands up to the
withering gaze of the prosecutor. His sight has
given him enormous strength to stand firm no
matter what.

This is what John calls 'belief.'

The thing about belief in Jesus --the
light--can not take place accept there be light
where none was present. The image, itself, of the
man who was born blind, and the impossibility of
him seeing, relates to the people in his community
who couldn't see how he was healed, and who
therefore brought him before the authorities.

Believing in Jesus as the Messiah, in other words,
is an impossibility when using our own vision, our
mental capacity.

This is lengthy, I know.

Posted by Comments:
steve souther
March 23, 2017
"As he walked along..." Jesus travelled
the roadways, and he didn't take the safe route,
especially on the Sabbath. "The sure road
leads to death" says Jung.

It was anything but 'sure' when he commanded this
man to wash in the pool of Saloam on the Sabbath,
a time that would surely cause trouble with the
authorities. The safe thing would be to wait for
Sunday, and also to take the man with him so there
would be no confusion in the community. He had
been blind all his life, what would one day more
That would have been the sure road, but Jesus
didn't take it.

Jesus walked along and encountering questions
along the way: "Whose fault was it that
caused this disaster, or that?" The questions
keep coming as he travels this life. The answer is
always in God's hands, and we should also seek the
light that points to how "God's work might be

Posted by Comments:
March 24, 2017

Posted by Comments:
Rick in Canada, eh?
March 24, 2017
Hi all. Back again.

A further thought. This story was undoubtedly told
to Jewish followers of Jesus who had been
"removed" from the synagogue, because it
is their story (vs. 22).

I think it is instructive that, the way John tells
the story, Jesus doesn't show up again until AFTER
the man has been disowned by his family and kicked
out of his community. This seems to be addressing
the age old question, "If God really is all
powerful and all loving, why didn't God keep the
bad thing (earthquake, fire, war, famine, death of
a loved one, etc.) from happening?"

Perhaps we are being told that Jesus isn't here to
keep bad things from happening to us. Perhaps we
need to see (Get it? "See"?) that Jesus
actually CAUSED the bad thing to happen here, by
giving this man the ability to see. That is what
opened to door to all the dislocation and stress
and broken relationships that followed.

(Makes me think of Habakkuk, "Why do you make
me see wrongdoing and look at trouble?")

It is only AFTER all the disruption and brokenness
are made clear that Jesus shows up and reveals
himself to the man. It is only AFTER the decisions
are made by the family (to walk away) and the
"important people" (to push him out)
that Jesus appears (Get it?) to help the man
understand that it wasn't really about him after

In a very real way, this is a 20/20 hindsight
story. (Get it? "20/20"?) As in,
"Life is lived looking forward, but is
understood looking backwards."

Moving on....

Posted by Comments:
steve souther
March 24, 2017
I meant to say in my previous note --which finds
its idea from Rick's opening note--the following:

The image of the man born blind, and the
impossibility of him seeing on his own, relates to
the heart of the message Jesus brings--that we all
are in the same boat as this man!

The good news is that the works of God, through
him who walks along, brought light that he (and
we) may see. All this takes place in the heat of
reality were humans are conflicted about sin and

It's all right here in this story. It's a good
thing, too, because we find ourselves also in the
midst of a story.

The man said, "Here is an astonishing
thing." The physical eyesight he was given
would not allow him to see this, only the 'light'
Jesus brought enabled him to see the 'astonishing
thing' about the religious leaders' blindness.

Sometimes it takes a traumatic physical event to
wake up and begin seeing. (this could be a point;
some who have said that having cancer was the best
thing that ever happened to them...)

Having never had eyes to see, this man born blind
must have had the most shocking experience of his
life when he washed in that pool and suddenly
could see for the first time. It was probably no
less traumatic then the experience of Paul losing
his sight on the road to Damascus.

End of ramble...

Posted by Comments:
steve souther
March 24, 2017
Rick, the point you make about Jesus coming back
AFTER the turmoil (the hindsight) is right on.
Thanks. I hadn't thought of that.

We join our thoughts, and light is generated.
It really is working this week.
The idea of bad things that happen sometimes
helps bring new sight was at work in both of our
notes. Although I fail to see that Jesus actually
caused this problem. In my mind, the problem
already existed; it was brought to the surface by
Jesus' acts of kindness, I think.

We're getting closer to the cross, and it needs
to be said that God wasn't pleased about this
suffering Jesus went through. He was pleased that
Jesus was doing his will. There is an important
distinction. The system that was set up by humans,
in opposition to God's will, did this entirely.
That clash took place also in this story, and the
family involved became victims of that same

My thoughts.

Posted by Comments:
rev smith, Lansing IA
March 24, 2017
I agree with Rick the punch line is verse 41.
If we hold to our own beliefs above all else and
ignore God's word, or interpret it in ways that
only serve to make us appear righteous then we
truly are blind. In this time of self examination
we should consider if there is any place in our
spiritual lives that we hold ourselves too high.

Help me O Lord to see my faults that I may repent.
Help me also to rejoice in the good gifts you
provide for your children despite my opinions of
who is worthy.

Posted by Comments:
steve souther
March 25, 2017
Again...dear friends,
There is much to do yet on this story.

Having been 'driven out,' this man had no where to
go. His past life as a beggar and as a member of
the Synagogue was completely over. Everything was
gone, vanished in the pool of Saloam. He's
completely on his own in an unfamiliar world.

Jesus heard about this and came to him. This
part of the story is touching. We feel this man's
lostness, his being shunned by the community, and
even his parents have distanced themselves from
him. The support he once enjoyed was gone.

The only one on earth who came was Jesus! At the
sight of him, a tear comes to our eye. This man
had never seen him because his last encounter was
as a blind person. This is why he asked who the
Son of Man was.

Jesus came when he heard that he was cast out.
It is at this point that we know that he comes,
too, when he hears about our cry when rejection
comes to our door.

Not only does Jesus bring sight to the man but he
brings comfort as well. The greatest comfort is in
providing him a new life in which to grow into.
There is a new world out there awaiting him, and I
believe that he did everything in his power to
step into it as a disciple of Jesus.

Rick, I went a bit overboard with my response to
you about Jesus bringing bad things. Sorry! You
were referring probably to the sudden changes that
brings pain, like birth pangs. This is
fundamentally different than where I went.

A careful perspective is needed for anyone who is
going through the life-changing time this man
faced. Belief in the Son of Man is the one thing
this man needed more than anything, and there he
was in person. The real story just begins, but
we're left with having to fill in the details of
that unfolding story using only our imagination.

As Jesus walked along, he was doing the works
of God. We must also walk along and appear in
person much the same way...

Posted by Comments:
Pastor David in Carolina
March 26, 2017
It may be irreverent to open a sermon this way.
But I remember the opening scene of the movie
"Trading Places" (1983) where Eddie
Murphy is begging for assistance as a blind and
crippled war veteran. Two Philly police officers
call his bluff, and he exclaims, "Thank you
Jesus!" I am not planning to imbelish the
scene but I want to use this to illustrate that
the blind man in John 9 really was blind, really
had a legitimate reason to in public begging.

Posted by Comments:
Pastor David in Carolina
March 26, 2017
This is a great website. About a month ago, I
borrowed an idea from the website. It was
embarrassing to confess my congregation that I had
an idea from Desperate Preacher (they roared with
laughter when I told them). But on the comment
was unique & insightful, I could not take
credit. Hope I didn't blow our cover!

Posted by Comments:
steve souther
March 26, 2017
Pastor David, your finding something of value in
such an unlikely place as a website entitled
Desperate Preachers may illustrate this text,
where the Works of God shows up in this most
unlikely place: a blind beggar.

I also have gotten valuable ideas from this
Out of nothing, God created. The man had no
eyes to heal. He was born that way. Jesus was
doing the works of God, which is to bring about
creation. We come with nothing, and a creative
situation takes place, too, when we walk along
together (so to speak) with words, one after the
other; something new arises--new sight is given.

Who knew, that in that typing class where words
were hammered out on the manual keyboard and
reached no further than the trash can by the
teacher's desk, that now they cab arise from a
keyboard and reach instantly to any place in the
The possibilities are unlimited. Our imagination
needs to be stretched much further. If our
technology can do this much, think of how much
more is the Creative work of God that brings
something out of absolutely nothing. It is not
where we are on the religious hill; it only
matters that we do God's will.

Posted by Comments:
Pastor David in Carolina
March 27, 2017
Teve Souther and eveyone, powerful thoughts on a
great text.

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